(Picture released by DC office).
BANG (YARKHUN): Soon after the fatal accident in Unauch village of Yarkhun which left nine people, including two women, dead on the night of may 30, the district administration of Upper Chitral issued an order banning night-time public transport to all remote areas.
The deputy commissioner office blamed drivers of taxi vehicles for most of the fatal accidents in far-off valleys by overloading and night-time travel. It said no public transport would be allowed to and from these areas after 8pm.
The administration then quickly launched a campaign and started action against vehicles found overloaded or travelling at night. The decision was welcomed by commuters but is such a move sustainable?
Talking to ChitralToday, social activist of Bang village Abdul Nasir Khan said similar orders had been issued in the past too but that could not be sustained. He agreed that by overloading and travelling at night the drivers were putting public life at risk.
He pointed out that the police in the district were poorly placed to ensure the ban on a permanent basis. There are no permanent police pickets on the Chitral-Yarkhun road right from the Chitral town to the remote Yarkhun valley. Even from Booni, there is no permanent presence of the police and the police posts are also located off the road.
The police would at best can ban public transport for a few weeks by stopping the taxis in Booni or Mastuj and then we will be back to the routine, he added.
Abdul Nasir said the best solution to the issue was a joint action by the district administration and the Chitral Scouts. He said if the district administration requests the Chitral Scouts, the latter can ensure the ban through its check posts at different points up to Yarkhun Lasht. He said the commandant of the Scouts had a few years ago agreed to cooperate if the district administration approached him.
He said the Chitral Scouts has its check posts and barriers on the Yarkhun road in Parwawk, Mastuj, Brep, Pavur, Dubargar and Yarkhun Lasht. These pickets can be utilized to ensure no public transport vehicle moved to the valley at night. This would not only minimize fatal accidents but would also resolve issues commuters face during night.
He said Booni and Chitral-bound taxis leave different villages in Upper Yarkhun between 1am and 2am and due to unavailability of transport after that the commuters, including women and children, have to start waiting for them on the road right from the midnight.
Similarly, Yarkhun-bound taxis leave Chitral town and Booni late in the afternoon and reach their destinations after midnight creating hardship for the passengers.
Mr Nasir said a few years ago he along with a delegation had met the then deputy commissioner of Chitral and the commandant of the Chitral Scouts and requested for collaboration to ensure such a ban.
On our request, the DC wrote to the assistant commissioner of Mastuj who then assigned a tehsildar the task. The tehsildar set up a temporary halting point in Bang, Mastuj and Booni and directed the taxi drivers not to travel on Booni-Yarkhun road at night. A few weeks later, the ban was forgotten, he added.
He requested the DC upper Chitral to approach the commandant of Chitral Scouts to ensure the ban through the posts of Chitral Scouts. Once this arrangement is put in place, the Scouts posts can strictly implement the ban for the safety of the passengers, he added.